This summer, the Loudoun County sheriff’s race was shaping up as a referendum on the 16-year tenure of incumbent Sheriff Steve Simpson, who bolted the Republican party in 2007, with the challenge coming from former DEA agent and Republican Mike Chapman.
Then Ron Speakman, a former Leesburg town police officer, jumped back in the race after losing the Republican nomination to Chapman in July. And now things have gotten downright racy.
Because for a five-year period in the late 1980s and early 1990s, Speakman had a particularly, er, colorful stage of his life. Now 50, he says they were mistakes made when he was young and stupid. And they wound up getting him shot.
While married with two children, then-Officer Speakman launched an affair with a woman named Marti Miller, also married with a child. Miller’s subsequent divorce, in which a Loudoun judge found she had committed adultery with Speakman, included Miller being thrown in jail for four months for selling a house full of personal property while her estranged husband was out of the country, and the judge receiving a death threat related to Miller’s jailing, which put him under 24-hour armed guard.
When Miller’s divorce was final, she and Speakman bought a house together in Springfield. And in 1993, Miller shot Speakman in the side, with a .38-caliber revolver. She was arrested and charged with unlawful wounding, and then proceeded to tell a psychiatric examiner a mind-boggling story of abuse by Speakman, which Speakman says is entirely untrue. But the end result was Miller was given a one-year sentence, completely suspended, and spent not a day in jail for shooting Speakman.
Since then, Speakman has entered the mortgage business, remarried and largely kept his head down. But in a press conference on the steps of the Loudoun courthouse Wednesday, Chapman’s many Republican supporters wanted to make sure everyone knew the skeletons in Speakman’s somewhat distant past.
“Mr. Speakman is an adulterer,” Loudoun County Treasurer Roger Zurn declared to reporters. “He received a protective order and was shot, yes shot, by a lover.” Zurn then read off the Fairfax case number for the Miller shooting.
Other elected officials — every constitutional officer in Loudoun except Simpson endorses Chapman — denounced Speakman for allegedly not living in the county, contributing to the subprime mortgage crisis and distorting Chapman’s record with the DEA.
So let’s hear from Speakman.
In two lengthy conversations, Speakman vigorously denied Miller’s accusations after the shooting that he was a hard drinking, physically and verbally abusive womanizer. He said he drank only an occasional glass of beer or wine back then, that he never assaulted or abused Miller and that she never called the police on him.
“It was not a volatile relationship,” Speakman said. “I never yelled at her. I spoiled her. I treated her very well.”
About claims he cheated on Miller while they lived together, he said, “I’m not a womanizer. I tried it, I’m not very good at it.”
When I first asked Speakman about adultery, he said “I don’t recall committing adultery when I was married to [first wife] Maureen.” He then said “I’ve been a married man, with the same woman, for 22 years.” He later amended that to 19 years, since in 1989 he was with Miller.
Miller’s divorce case makes plain there was ample evidence that Speakman and Miller were together beginning in 1988, when Miller’s husband hired private detectives who watched Speakman rendezvous with Miller at Rehoboth Beach, and the happy couple making out in public. Speakman’s patrol car was seen outside Miller’s home and the Leesburg bar both frequented, her ex-husband Kenneth Natale said. In depositions and court testimony, Miller repeatedly invoked the Fifth Amendment when asked if she were sleeping with Speakman, and Judge James Chamblin dissolved her marriage based on her adultery.
“In a technical sense, I guess I was” an adulterer, Speakman said about that time 23 years ago. He said that he was separated from his first wife then, was honest with Miller about his status, and said Miller lied and told him she too was separated, when her husband was merely out of town. He said the two met at Spanky’s Shenanigans bar in Leesburg.
Miller claimed the shooting happened after she confronted Speakman over his affair with a co-worker. Speakman said he was not having an affair with the co-worker, but he said he began dating her after he was shot in 1993, and married her in 2001.
Speakman’s shooting nearly killed him, he said, and it cost him a kidney. He said he was unaware that his subsequent contacts with Miller caused her to obtain a one-year restraining order against him, which banned him from their house, and he had never heard the many pages of abuse allegations Miller made against him in a psychiatric evaluation. He said Miller made the claims to evade a possible prison sentence.
[UPDATE: Speakman correctly notes that he also asked the judge, then relatively new Fairfax Circuit Court Judge Jane Marum Roush, not to send Miller to prison, and he wrote a letter to the Fairfax prosecutor handling the case asking that Miller not be incarcerated because she had a young child.]
Miller’s criminal lawyer, Manuel Capsalis, did not respond to requests for comment.
Miller now lives in New Mexico. I have been trying to reach her this week for her side, so far without success.
So does a torrid, adulterous affair capped off by a shooting have relevance to a campaign for sheriff 18 years later? Miller’s ex-husband, Natale, who received anonymous death threats during the divorce including the one directed at the judge, thinks it does.
“It’s clear from the circumstances of my case,” Natale said, “that Speakman proved himself to be a liar, a cheater, an abuser of authority and a betrayer of the public trust.” Speakman resigned from the Leesburg police in 1991, amidst all this turmoil, and the police won’t say why, citing personnel rules. Speakman says it was because he wanted to go into the mortgage business, where he made a great deal of money with a company called Mortgage and Equity Funding. He closed the business last year.
Natale said, “Someone who is that morally bankrupt doesn’t morph, in five or 10 or 15 years, into somebody you would want as the sheriff of your county.”
Speakman said that he was led to believe Natale was a bad guy, but later learned he was actually “an honorable man and a good father.” He said Miller often talked about harming her husband, and that “I saved him from the bullet. I got the bullet. That’s how I see it.”
He said he was young, 27, in 1988. “I made a bad decision to be with her, and I took responsibility for that,” Speakman said. He said Miller shot him when he learned she was taping his phone conversations, and he told her he was leaving her.
“We were two partners in mischief,” Speakman said. “And I paid for it.”